The computer-aided design landscape has been shifting and evolving for 60 years and will continue for 60 more.
60 years ago, the “Father of CAD,” Dr. Patrick Hanratty created the first numerical control system, which would later become Computer Aided Design, or CAD. The precision, versatility, and adaptability of CAD designs revolutionized the engineering, architecture and manufacturing landscape. The importance of CAD cannot be overstated.
While the history of CAD closely parallels the history of the computer, there have been many innovations and iterations along the way. With its introduction in 1957, CAD was still decades ahead of the small and affordable computers that would make the software available to anyone. Pencil and paper would remain the primary way “draftsmen” created designs for another 30 years. But the groundwork was laid for things to come; CAD software would eventually become a fundamental tool for nearly every industry.
Is your digital catalog future-proof?
The idea of CAD has grown from simple 2D designs into complex, multi-layered 3D structures with kinematic movement and detailed metadata. Similarly, the CADENAS digital catalog has paralleled innovations in the CAD industry. The eCATALOGsolutions platform is continually evolving to provide native formats as soon as they are available, often before they are publicly available. Whether you launch your CADENAS eCATALOG in 2001, 2017 or 2027, all of the CAD models you provide your clients will remain backward compatible and “future-proof.”
History of CAD Highlights:
|Blueprints||1861||By: Alphonse-Louis Poitevin|| |
Alphonse-Louis Poitevin invented the first blueprints using iron ferro-gallate and light. His process let designers make copies of architectural drawings, reducing the chance of losing information or making errors when transferring designs between team members.
|PRONTO||1957||By: Dr. Patrick J. Hanratty |
(the “Father of CAD”)
PRONTO was the first commercial, numerical-control programming system. It sparked everything that is CAD.
|Sketchpad||1963||By: Ivan Sutherland|| |
Sketchpad was one of the first design systems to use a graphic user interface. Using a light pen on a CRT display, users could constrain properties in a drawing. Sketchpad also created the use of “objects” and “instances.”
(Design Automated by Computer)
|1963||By: Dr. Patrick J. Hanratty, General Motors, and IBM||Dr. Patrick J. Hanratty, General Motors, and IBM partnered to create DAC, an early graphic CAD system. Computer scientist Douglas T. Ross coined the name CAD (computer-aided design).|
(Computer-graphics Augmented Design and Manufacturing)
|1965||By: IBM/Lockheed||CADAM introduced CAD to aerospace design.|
(Computer-Aided Design & Drafting)
|1966||By: McDonnell Douglas |
(now merged with Boeing)
McDonnell Douglas and other manufacturers started releasing internal CAD systems like CADD, which was used for parts layouts and geometry work.
(Product Design Graphics System)
|1967||By: Ford||Ford developed an internal CAD system called PDGS.|
|Digigraphics||1967||By: Itek|| |
Itek released Digigraphics, one of the first commercial CAD systems. The system cost $500,000.
(now under PTC)
|1969||By: Philippe Villers and Martin Allen|| |
Computervision sold one of the first commercial CAD systems to Xerox.
(Automated Drafting and Machinery)
|1971||By: Dr. Patrick J. Hanratty|| |
This interactive graphic system was written in Fortran and designed to work on virtually all mainframe computers. Approximately 90 percent of today’s commercial drafting programs can be traced back to ADAM.
|Synthavision||1972||By: MAGI|| |
Synthavision was the first 3D solid modeling system. It rendered images with ray-tracing.
|1973||By: United Computing|| |
Unigraphics provided 2D modeling and drafting. It was a high-end, easy-to-use software used by many corporations that set a new gold standard for CAD software at the time.
(Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines)
|1975||By: Dr. Ken Versprille|| |
While working under Computervision, Dr. Ken Versprille introduced NURBS to CAD. NURBS helped define surfaces and is still widely used in engineering today.
(Graphical Language for Interactive Design)
|1977||By: Charles Eastman|| |
GLIDE had many of the same features as modern BIM.
|By: Dassault Systèmes|| |
CATIA, a multi-platform CAD software still in use today, introduced engineers to 3D modeling.
(Initial Graphics Exchange Specification)
|1980||By: U.S. National Bureau of Standards |
(now National Institute of Standards and Technology)
IGES is a neutral CAD format that lets users transfer their 3D designs between different CAD software programs. Once STEP was released, IGES was no longer updated, but it is still accepted in many places.
|GEOMOD||1981||By: SDRC |
(Structural Dynamics Research Corporation)
SDRC developed GEOMOD, their geometric modeling product. Featuring NURBS (Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines), this model generator was based on precision and accuracy.
|Autodesk/AutoCAD||1982||By: John Walker|| |
ohn Walker founded the company Autodesk, which released AutoCAD. AutoCAD was the first CAD software made for PCs instead of mainframe computers.
|Radar CH |
|1984||By: Gábor Bojár|| |
This was the first BIM software available for personal computers.
(Now Vectorworks, Inc.)
|1985||By: Richard Diehl/Diehl Graphsoft|| |
MiniCAD was the best selling CAD software for Mac computers.
|AutoCAD 3D||1985||By: Autodesk|| |
Autodesk started offering 3D modeling systems.
(Now PTC Creo)
|1988||By: PTC|| |
This was the first mainstream CAD program that brought the ideas of Sketchpad (interactive, easy to use, fast) to life. Based on solid models, history-based features, and the use of constraints, it transformed the CAD industry. It was written in UNIX’s X-Windows, making it faster and more user-friendly.
|CADENAS||1992||By: Juergen Heimbach|| |
Founded originally as an engineering firm, CADENAS realized the potential of the engineering IT age and eventually founded eCATALOGsolutions.
|Building Design Advisor||1993||By: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory|| |
This BIM system could perform simulations to determine how buildings and components function and give feedback to design teams.
|AutoCAD R13||1994||By: Autodesk|| |
This version made AutoCAD 3D compatible.
(Standard for the Exchange of Product Data)
|1994||By: ISO (the International Standards Organization)|| |
STEP took over for IGES as the new format to use when transferring 3D models. The initial 1994 release of STEP made it an international standard for models, and it’s still the most used format today.
|eCATALOGsolutions||1995||By: CADENAS|| |
CADENAS entered the native 3D CAD model market with its eCATALOGsolutions digital product catalogs that featured multiple native CAD formats for the first time.
|SolidWorks||1995||By: Dassault Systèmes|| |
SolidWorks allowed more engineers than ever to take advantage of 3D CAD technology.
|Solid Edge||1995||By: Intergraph|| |
Made as a PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) software, Solid Edge was a response to the success of SolidWorks. It functioned on Windows and provided solid modeling, assembly modeling, and 2D orthographic views.
|CATIA Conferencing Groupware||1996||By: Dassault Systèmes|| |
This was CATIA’s first internet-ready system, and it allowed teams to review and annotate CATIA models simultaneously. It was quickly followed by Unigraphic’s iMAN web author and CoCreate’s Openspace Web.
|Inventor||1999||By: Autodesk|| |
Inventor was more intuitive and simpler to use, and it allowed designers to create complex assemblies in record time. It is still in use today.
|Revit||2000||By: Revit Technology Corporation|| |
By finding conflicts between BIM objects in models and making necessary adjustments, Revit transformed BIM. Revit is one of the most popular BIM systems used today.
|SketchUp||2000||By: @Last Software|| |
SketchUp was released as an easy-to-use, 3D modeling tool for several different fields, and it’s still widely used today.
|AutoCAD 360 |
(Now AutoCAD mobile)
|2010||By: Autodesk|| |
Autodesk released a mobile version of their system, allowing designers to work outside of the office.
|2012||By: Autodesk|| |
This system moved CAD to the cloud and allowed teams to work on the same design simultaneously. Others followed.
|3D CAD Models App||2013||By: CADENAS|| |
CADENAS released the first 3D CAD models app for manufacturers. The app allows industrial marketers to display their products anywhere and at any time.
|Onshape||2015||By: John Hirschtick and John McEleney|| |
Onshape is a completely cloud-based CAD system that lets teams collaborate on one design simultaneously.
|Mindesk||2015||By: Gabriele Sorrento|| |
Mindesk lets users view projects through virtual reality.
|Microsoft HoloLens||2016||By: Microsoft|| |
HoloLens offers full-scale, holographic models.
|3DfindIT.com||2019||By: CADENAS PARTsolutions|| |
3DfindIT.com is a visual search engine that crawls billions of 3D CAD and BIM models in hundreds of manufacturer catalogs available worldwide.
|CAD-to-AR for Inventor app||2019||By: Autodesk|| |
CAD-to-AR allows users to view Inventor models in augmented reality.
Original History of CAD infographic from 2017:
Original Infographic : Alexis Barnhorn / Research: Laura Caudill / Update: Kelly Obbie
History of CAD References: